Leviticus, chapters 25-27

Furthermore, no condemned person who is set apart for destruction may be redeemed. He should be put to death without fail.
~Leviticus 27:29

When a person devoted to doing God’s will decides to deliberately disobey his concrete instructions, that person is committing spiritual suicide.

In ancient Israel, certain crimes carried the death penalty.

These crimes included: apostasy, idolatry, adultery, eating blood, and murder (De 13:12-18; Le 20:10; 17:14; Nu 35:31).

The law required for at least two witnesses to testify against the defendants and these same two witnesses had to be the ones to initiate the stoning process (De. 17:7).

Later, in first century Roman-ruled Judea, Jews were not at liberty to execute the criminals they convicted.

Instead, they had the practice of expelling someone, that is, shunning them from their community (John 9:22; 12:42).

Jesus passed this practice along to his disciples when he told them: ‘If your brother commits a sin and does not listen to the congregation, he should be to you just as a man of the nations and as a tax collector,’ (Matt. 18:15-17).

Jews did not commingle with other races or tax collectors for they considered them unclean.

Three years after Jesus’ death, Christians went out to preach to all the nations, but the shunning-rule remained the same in regards to a person who did not repent of their serious sins (Acts 10:28; 1 Co. 5:11,13).

When someone very close to us turns their back on God, it is like a constant sting in our heart.

One wishes we could trade faiths with them, somehow warranting their salvation in exchange for our own.

This is impossible, for Psalm 49, verses 7 and 8 read:

None of them can ever redeem a brother
Or give to God a ransom for him,
(The ransom price for their life is so precious
That it is always beyond their reach)[…]”

The decision whether or not to serve God is strictly between the person, God and the ransom price he provided, Christ (1 Tim. 2:5,6; Rom. 5:8).

The only thing we can do for these loved ones is to set an example of integrity so that they may be moved to repent and come back to the congregation (2 Cor. 2:6-8).

Leviticus, chapters 21-24

No unauthorized person may eat anything holy. No foreign guest of a priest or hired worker may eat anything holy. But if a priest should purchase someone with his own money, that person may share in eating it. Slaves born in his house may also share in eating his food.
~Leviticus 22:10,11

This text implies that circumcised foreigners who had been bought as laborers were thereafter considered to make up part of the priest’s household.

The priest’s immediate family members could also partake in holy meals.

Daughters were considered a part of the household if they were single, divorced or widowed and did not have children who could care for their needs (Lev. 22:13).

Jehovah truly extends his kindness toward every person regardless of their origin (Matt. 5:45).

From these verses we can gather at least a couple lessons:

1. God has his own arrangements as to who can enjoy things that he considers to be His own and how those things are enjoyed.

When we respect those arrangements, we are demonstrating godly devotion, especially if that implies making certain personal sacrifices (1 Tim. 6:6).

2. God is not partial toward any “but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him,” (Acts 10:34,35).

Therefor we should make a genuine effort to eradicate racist or prejudice notions that may have been engrained in us as children and that keep us from extending our hospitality toward members of our own faith who come from different roots.

Leviticus, chapters 17-20

If a foreigner resides with you in your land, you must not mistreat him. The foreigner who resides with you should become to you like a native among you; and you must love him as yourself […]
~Leviticus 19:33

The commandment here given stands in stark contrast to the violence going on in and around present-day Israel.

History books and modern politics would lead us to believe religion and war go hand in hand.

Both political and religious leaders have used God’s word as a disguise to dress themselves “in sheep’s covering, but inside they are ravenous wolves,” (Matt. 7:15).

Jesus applied the aforementioned law in his parable of the good Samaritan.

He made the parable more remarkable using irony in that it was the foreigner who was kind toward the Jew, and not his own religious leaders as one would expect (Luke 10:30-37).

Jesus was essentially restating Leviticus 19:18 when he instituted the following principle as the basis of conduct for his new followers: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must do to them. This, in fact, is what the Law and the Prophets mean,” (Matt. 7:12).

Acknowledging the hypocritical breach of integrity characteristic of many leaders, Jesus also instructed his followers: “[…] All the things they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds, for they say but they do not practice what they say,” (Matt. 23:3).

It is important, then, to not blame God’s Word for religious or political conflict, because unlike men, God does not contradict himself.


Leviticus chapter 19 holds many interesting points relating to what it means to be a just person.
If you would like to build character, I invite you to meditate on the following:

Showing compassion toward the less materially fortunate- Lev. 19:9,10
Avoiding white collar crimes- Lev.19:11-13
Avoiding cruelty toward the disabled- Lev. 19:14
Keeping the criminal justice system fair- Lev. 19:15
Avoiding gossip- Lev. 19:16
Cultivate forgiveness- Lev. 19:18
Organic is better- Lev. 19:19
People who do not have equal rights should not be held equally accountable for their actions- Lev. 19:20
Superstitious behavior is unholy- Lev. 19:26
God’s view on self-harm/self-mutilation- Lev. 19:28
Pimping women is an abuse of power- Lev. 19:29
Honor the elderly- Lev. 19:32
Keep commercial transactions honest- Lev. 19:35,36

Leviticus, chapters 14-16

[…] The goat designated by lot for A·za′zel should be brought alive to stand before Jehovah in order to perform the atonement upon it, so that it may be sent away for A·za′zel into the wilderness.
~Leviticus 16:10

The word “Azazel” seems to come from two Hebrew words.

Na·saʼ′ can mean pardon, take away, carry and in this instance, disappear;ʽez means goat (Insight, vol. ii, “Pardon”).

In effect, Azazel means disappearing goat, scapegoat, or as the Greek Septuagint translates it, “the one averting evil,” (Insight, vol. i, “Azazel”).

The High Priest of Israel was to enter the Most Holy, that is, the compartment of the Tabernacle where the Ark of the Covenant was placed, only once a year.

There, he was to make atonement first for himself and his family, then for all of Israel (Lev. 16:12-16).

This occurred on the holiday known as Atonement Day.

This was the only day in which all of Israel was obligated to fast and ‘afflict their souls.’ They were prohibited from working on this day (Lev. 16:31).

There were two goats: one goat was sacrificed to Jehovah as a sin offering on behalf of the nation, and the other stood before Jehovah while the life of the sacrificed goat was symbolically transferred to the live goat through the blood it shed (Lev. 17:11).

Then the live goat was led away and set free in the wilderness, carrying off the nation’s sins, so to speak (Lev. 16:20-22).

The prophet Isaiah correctly applied this ceremony to what Christ was to do for mankind:

“Truly he himself carried our sicknesses,
And he bore our pains.
But we considered him as plagued, stricken by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgression;
He was crushed for our errors.
He bore the punishment for our peace,
And because of his wounds we were healed,”
(Isa. 53:4,5).

Therefor both goats represent one symbol: that of Christ shedding his blood for us, presenting it in Heaven before his Father, and through his atonement, carrying away the sins of repentant humanity (Heb. 9:11, 12).

The High Priest entering the Most Holy to make atonement for Israel represented Christ entering Heaven and making atonement for all of humanity.

The High Priest entering the Most Holy to make atonement for Israel represented Christ’s entering Heaven to make atonement for all of repentant humanity.

 

 

Leviticus, chapters 10-13

If a woman becomes pregnant and gives birth to a male, she will be unclean for seven days […] If she should give birth to a female, she will then be unclean for 14 days […]
~Leviticus 12:2,5

Why this discrepancy in the length of time an Israelite woman would be considered unclean?

At first read it seems rather sexist.

What did being unclean imply?

During the time she was physically unclean, the woman was not to have sexual relations with her husband. This promoted self-discipline and hygiene in the Israelite culture. During the next 33 days, in the case of a baby boy, or 66 days, in the case of a baby girl, the mother was ceremonially unclean, which meant she was not to come into contact with holy objects (Lev. 12:4,5; Insight on the Scriptures, vol. ii, “Mother,” par. 3).

Why was the new mother “unclean” to begin with?

The research explains that because of the imperfect state of humanity, the reproductive organs which were once meant to pass perfect life, now actually pass the “inherited effects of sin,” that is, illness and death (Watchtower, 5/15/2004, p. 23; Ps. 51:5; Rom. 5:12).

This ‘passing on of sin’ required some atonement, which is why God asked for a burnt offering and a sin offering, (Lev. 12:6).

These sacrifices foreshadowed Christ’s sacrifice which would atone for all of repentant humanity’s sins (Gal. 3:24; Heb. 9:13,14; 10:3,4).

To put this into a more familiar context, let us remember that even Mary recognized her own sinful state when she and Joseph presented baby Jesus at the temple and offered a humble sacrifice (Luke 2:22-24).

Israelite birth customs drew attention to our lamentable condition of being born in sin as opposed to perfection, and therefor highlighted the need for a savior from this state, the need for the expected Messiah.

So why the discrepancy in the length of “unclean” time between the sexes?

In the Bible, ‘the woman was created for the sake of the man,’ and not the other way around, (1 Cor. 11:9).

In family life, a woman is to subject to her husband’s role as head of the household (Eph. 5:22,23).

“Thus, from birth, the Law distinguished between male and female, assigning to the latter a subordinate position,” (Insight on the Scriptures, vol. i, “Clean,” par. 11).

From this we can conclude that the time needed for a mother to become physically and ceremonially clean after giving birth to a girl served to remind society that not only were they all sinners, but females should subject to their husbands/fathers within family life.

Leviticus, chapters 6-9

Last week’s reading covered many details on several types of offerings.

These are:

  • Burnt offerings
  • Communion offerings
  • Sin offerings
  • Guilt offerings
  • Grain offerings
  • Wave offerings
  • Sacred portions
  • Installation sacrifice

I will focus on communion offerings, otherwise known as peace offerings.

Communion offerings could be voluntarily offered at any time as “an expression of thanksgiving,” to praise God or to concert a vow (Lev. 7:12, 16).

The consumption of the offering was shared between the person presenting it, the priests and Jehovah.

The person presenting the offering would offer unleavened bread along with the ceremonial sacrifice of a healthy animal.

Neither the animal’s blood nor fat were for human consumption; the blood was sprinkled around the altar and the fat was burnt, Jehovah symbolically consuming the aroma (Lev. 3:2-5; 7:25-27).

The person presenting the offering could bring leavened bread, but this was not to be presented on the altar, as leaven represents sin and corruption (Lev. 2:11; 7:13).

The leavened bread was for the people’s enjoyment, not God’s.

Tradition states that the person presenting the offering ate the meal in the courtyard of the tabernacle (Insight, vol. II, “Offerings,” par. 9).

The flesh of the animal sacrificed had to be eaten on the same day it was slaughtered (Lev. 7:15).

Otherwise the flesh would begin to corrupt and the people who partook in the communion meal would then be ceremonially unclean, a sin punishable by death (Lev. 7:20).

Today we do not have these types of ceremonies in which we can ‘share a meal’ with Jehovah.

It must have been a very spiritual experience.

We can, however, thank and praise God any day, any time, through words and actions that reflect our faith in the ultimate sacrifice of Christ Jesus, which can be likened to an aroma that is pleasing to God.

 

 

 

Leviticus, chapters 1-5

Every grain offering you make is to be seasoned with salt; and you must not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be missing from your grain offering. Along with every offering of yours, you will present salt.
~Leviticus 2:13

What does salt symbolize?

It has often been used as a preservative and an antiseptic.

Therefor it can symbolize permanence and cleanliness.

As Christians, we put into practice Christ’s words, “You are the salt of the earth,” when we share his message of ever-lasting life (Matt. 5:13).

We also have a “preserving” effect when we positively influence others through uncorrupted moral behavior.

Jesus also said, “Have salt in yourselves, and keep peace between one another,” (Mark 9:50).

In effect, today we do not make food offerings, but rather, we “offer to God […] the fruit of our lips,” (Heb. 13:15).

How do we add “salt” to our praise?

God’s word tells us the answer: Let your utterance be always with graciousness, seasoned with salt, so as to know how you ought to give an answer to each one,” (Col. 4:6).

In other words, we ought to think before we speak and say things in a considerate manner.

“For God is well-pleased with such sacrifices,” (Heb. 13:16).